Ergun Caner, Ex-Muslim Evangelical Leader, Exposed As Fake
May 19, 2010, 3:57 pm
Filed under: Religion | Tags: , , , , ,

Ergun Caner is one of the most prominent figures in the evangelical movement. He is also one of the most deceptive.

A self-professed Muslim convert to Christianity, Caner plays an important, and arguably dangerous, role in the community. After the 9/11 attacks, when many Americans were searching for answers, Caner stepped up with enthusiasm to present himself as an expert on Islam. He used his own “personal history” (much of it since demonstrated as bogus) to confirm his audience’s deeply-held suspicions about the faith that many of them blamed for the attacks.

Today, as president of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a professor of apologetics, he exhibits tremendous influence in shaping the next generation of evangelical leaders.

A burly man with a charming smile, Caner is an eloquent speaker and an ever better storyteller. He blends the Gospel with humor. He’s a big fan of Glenn Beck and NASCAR. He speaks about love. He tweets. And, he is well liked by his students. In the five years that he’s been at Liberty, the school’s enrollment has nearly tripled.

Caner is a protégé of Paige Patterson, the controversial and successful leader of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who is perhaps best known for forcing the Southern Baptist Convention into the political right. Paterson spoke at the school’s commencement this year.

By the time he came to Liberty University, a Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia founded by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell, Caner had already become a prolific writer. He and his brother had written several books aimed at evangelical audiences. Many of the books recounted their paths to Christ. It’s hard not to be moved by the narrative – true or not.

Born in Turkey to a religious father, a muezzin (one who performs the call to prayer), Caner grew up detesting the United States and all it stood for. He learned bits and pieces about his future homeland from watching the Dukes of Hazzard. During his teenage years, his family immigrated to the United States. His father came here to spread the message of Islam and build mosques.

During his senior year in high school, his life changed. Caner found Christ. A friend, “a solitary Christian boy,” refused to take no for an answer and insisted that Caner learn about Christianity. He invited him to his tiny store-front church where Caner talked to the pastor, a man with a sixth grade education who questioned him about his firmly-held convictions. Caner was amazed to discover the true teachings of a faith he had been trained his whole life to hate. He accepted Christianity, as did his two brothers, Emir and Erdem.

When he told his father, he was disowned. It was, he writes, a difficult experience for young Ergun, who didn’t speak to his father for many years. In one of his books, he writes, “For the other 95 percent of the world’s population, conversion to Jesus Christ often means disowning, disinheritance, expulsion, arrest, and even death.” But he was resolute in his newfound faith and was willing to give it all up for eternal salvation. Caner and his younger brother Emir (president of Truett-McConnell College, a small Bible college in Cleveland, Georgia) became shining examples to evangelicals.

If a hardened and hidebound jihadist “trained to do that which was done on 11 September” could come around to accepting Christ, the logic went, it proved beyond doubt that the message of Christ was universal.

The main problem with Caner’s journey from Jihad to Jesus is that much of it is fiction, a complex lie made up to give his conversion more authenticity. He fabricated almost everything. For someone who allegedly fought jihad, Caner’s understanding of the very basic tenets of the faith he is a so-called expert in is rudimentary.

Caner does not know the difference between Islam’s article of faith and the first chapter of the Qur’an. He’s claimed that the lunar month of Ramadan lasts for 40 days. In his book, he writes that he performed all of the rakats (daily prayers). The actual word is salah. It’s not a difference most people would know, but he says he is an expert on Islam. Muslims, he once said, followed something he called the “tobaad.” He’s claimed to have debated Muslim scholars who’ve never heard of him. Court records from his parent’s divorce indicate that he was in Ohio when he was a young child, long before his alleged move from Turkey. On his books, his middle name is Mehmet (Muhammad in Turkish), yet it is listed as Michael on his concealed-weapons permit in Virginia. Before 9/11, he went by E. Michael Caner.

In one speech, Caner told a crowd that outside the mosque in Kabul there was a sign that read, “Do not teach the women to read and write.” The story may or may not be true, but Caner, to give authority to the tale, told the crowd what was written in the native tongue: “bahasha uwtara muwtara seeteeroh.” That’s neither Dari nor Arabic nor Urdu nor Turkish nor Pashtu. It is an entirely made up language.

To his audience, Caner’s tale of moving from darkness to light reaffirmed their convictions about the superiority of Christianity and the decadence of Islam. But the facts eventually caught up with Caner, thanks to a Muslim student in London who methodically went through his speeches and interviews, chronicling each and every one of his lies. Others quickly piled on, including some within the church.

Ironically, in 2005, Caner came to the defense of Florida-based preacher Jerry Vines who angered the Muslim community with his demonization of the Prophet Muhammad. A piece in the Florida Times-Union quoted Caner, who defended Vines by saying, “No one expected a Baptist preacher to actually research.”

That’s precisely why Caner’s duplicitous persona went unchallenged for so long. No one expected a preacher to so boldly fabricate his entire background. It was all a ruse, intended to play off the evangelical movement’s ignorance and fear of Islam.

For months, Liberty University refused to investigate Caner’s background. Now that local press and even the Associated Press have written about the controversy, the school has set up a committee to investigate the allegations. If they excuse his behavior, they risk tarnishing their credibility. If they punish him, they risk provoking the anger of the evangelical community.

An unrepentant Caner maintains his innocence, saying that he “never intentionally misled anyone.” He blames the campaign to discredit him on Calvinists and their Muslim interlocutors. At the same time, many of his duped followers are refusing to accept reality. They are taking their anger out on those who have exposed the fraud and not on the charlatan himself.

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11 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Good post. Well done! 🙂

Comment by Mohammad

Actually, it seems Ergun Caner was not born in Turkey but in Sweden,and moved to Ohio when he was four.

Comment by Mike Licht

Ergun Caner is the most arrogant preacher I have ever seen. This guy is a thug. He just does not have a sense of decency and integrity. He is a jackass

Comment by JOHN

Good read!! Loved reading it. Thanks for posting 🙂

Comment by Ganna

(What follows is what I found on the net – Sandra)

Liberty University & Libertines

Speaking of evangelical scandals and Liberty University in the same breath, readers can Google “Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal” (line-by-line proof that THE Jerry Falwell’s 1981 “Fundamentalist Phenomenon” book was a huge plagiarism of George Dollar’s 1973 “History of Fundamentalism in America”!). Also Google “Thomas Ice (Bloopers).” Ice is a prof at LU whose “Ph.D” was “obtained” from a tiny Texas school that was fined by the state of Texas for illegally issuing degrees! When “Dr.” Ice reproduced in 1989 Margaret Macdonald’s short “pre-tribulation rapture” revelation of 1830 (Margaret originated this 180-year-old escapist endtime view which has made millionaires of Lindsey, LaHaye etc.!), he somehow left out 49 words when copying it – the same 49 words LaHaye left out in the same sections when a book of his reproduced it three years later! (LaHaye has been one of LU’s biggest donors.) Ice, BTW, also had the same distinctive copying errors Lindsey had when he had reproduced MM’s revelation in his 1983 book! Since Liberty University is one of the top promoters of the same fringe-British-originated pretrib rapture fantasy, interested readers can also Google “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Letter from Mrs. Billy Graham,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” (documented plagiarism and other dishonesty since 1830 by some of the best known names in evangelicalism) – all uncovered by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot.” (Evangelicals should take some tranquilizers before reading the above!)

Comment by Sandra

you should give attribution of your article to Huffington Post.

Comment by patrickmalone

This reminds me of the Mike Warnke scandal a few years ago. Unfortunately the uncritical anti-intellectual nature of much of the evangelical world leads to acceptance of people simply on their word.

Comment by Mike

I am truly disappointed in Dr. Caner and LU’s initial response. Elmer Towns is an embarrassment to the university for stating that Dr. Caner did not do anything immoral or unethical.

Dr. Caner did apologize on the internet, but then nullified it by saying he never intentionally misled anyone.

But the evidence from his own mouth says differently. Watching him speak from the videos on the internet proves that he said the following:

I was born in Istanbul, Turkey. He was not.
I was raised near the Turkey/Iran border. He was not.
I came to America in 1978. He did not.
I came to America through Brooklyn at age 13. He did not.
I learned English by watching the Dukes of Hazard. He did not.
I spoke broken English. He did not.
I debated a specific Muslim in Nebraska. He did not.
I have debated Muslim leaders. He has not.
I have debated religious leaders of other religions. He has not.

His falsehoods revolve around three areas: when he came to America, where he was raised, and who he debated. This is not complicated. He has intentionally misled others in these three areas. The true facts are as follows:

He was born in Sweden in 1966.
He came to America before 1970.
He was raised in Columbus, Ohio.
He was educated in America.
He spoke fluent English.
His mother was Lutheran.
His father was Muslim.
His parents divorced when he was nine.
He was raised Muslim.
His father was active in a mosque.
He came to Christ around age 15.
His father disowned him.
He attended evangelical colleges and seminaries.
He had evangelistic encounters with people from other religions.

LU has taken action. They have corrected Ergun Caner’s bio. They have removed the inaccuracies. They removed when he came to America, mention of Turkey, and mention of his numerous debates in 40 states and 13 countries. They are investigating his background. But their previous statement by Towns is more embarrassing then Caner’s falsehoods.

Dr. Caner at the very least needs to apologize. He needs to state clearly and unequivocally that he misrepresented his background. We may assume that he did so to capitalize on his Muslim background in the wake of 9/11. The evidence is that E. Michael Caner became Ergun Mehmet Caner after 9/11.

The sad truth is that his actual testimony was sufficient enough. He could have said that being raised by a devout Sunni Muslim father gave him a unique perspective on the mind of the Muslim terrorists and indoctrination. He didn’t have to lie. That is what is so sad.

Comment by starrstruck

Breaking News . . .

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary has just announced that the Law of God will no longer be referenced as the Ten Commandments. From this day forward, the Law of God will be known as the Nine Commandments. “In light of the Ergun Caner controversy, we just felt that it would be better to delete one of the commandments,” Elmer Towns stated. “This will allow us to keep Ergun as our president.” Where there is no law, there can be no sin. No sin, no problem.

Dr. Caner stated that he was relieved to have been found innocent of all wrong doing. “I always knew, deep down in my heart, that I had done nothing wrong, “Caner explained. “Now I can continue to tell my testimony with the full support of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.”

Comment by starrstruck

Hello,

I recently wrote an article on Caner, and I would like to use the picture in your post for that article; do I have your permission to do so? Thanks in advance.

Mustafa

Comment by Mustafa

As a good Muslim I want to fuck this guy Emit!I promise that I am not going to dis sitisfy him!Promise!

Comment by Ogillvie




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